The UK has a moral duty to lead on international aid

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I’ve received an email from a Walthamstow resident, asking me to contact Green Party leadership to hear their views on international aid. While I wait for a response from them, I thought I’d jot down my own thoughts, and the Green Party’s plans for international aid.

The UK should be a leading force for good in the world. As one of the world’s richest countries and our history on the world stage, we have a moral duty to help reduce poverty and to redress global power imbalances. I believe that through this, the world will become more stable and peaceful, making countries safer in the process. 

To address the specific requests raised in the email, will Greens commit to:

Continue to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid?

Yes. In our manifesto under the “Global justice and international aid” section, The Green Party has pledged to increase spending on foreign aid from 0.7% to 1.0% of our GDP, making us the third highest donor (by GDP percentage) in the world by 2021. 0.3% of this 1% will be spent on helping countries deal with the Climate Crisis. We will ensure that all UK aid is aimed at the poorest, is locally designed and is subject to local scrutiny.

Keep an independent Department for International Development (DFID) – the most effective and transparent spender of UK aid – and not merge it with other government departments?

Yes. Policy IP253 of the Green Party’s Policies for a Sustainable Society (PSS) states: “The Department for International Development should remain a Cabinet-level ministry supporting the distribution of British aid. An independent, publicly accountable body should monitor aid-effectiveness and adherence to internationally agreed principles of good donorship.”

Make sure aid is focused on poverty reduction and supporting countries to strengthen their systems such as healthcare and education?

Yes. The Green Party manifesto promises to “Ensure that all UK aid is aimed at the poorest, and is locally designed, appropriate and subject to local scrutiny. Where feasible, aid will be given as grants, not loans.” 

Our Green New Deal covers a wide range of ideas that cover social, economic and environmental improvements, with the Greens recognising that climate chaos cannot be tackled without also tackling inequality and poverty.

The Greens believe this approach should also be encouraged in other countries, so the implication of that is that we would support countries in strengthening their systems. 

The Greens believe in writing off debt for poor countries, would press aid-giving nations and international bodies to embed the above principles in their aid programmes, and to abolish “tied aid” (whereby a nation is only given aid in return for buying goods and services from the donor). 

There is much more we would do, some of which is in our manifesto, but further detail can also be found in our long term goals published on our website

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